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Fringilla montifringilla -Poland -male-8.jpg
Male in Poland
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Fringillidae
Subfamily: Fringillinae
Genus: Fringilla
F. montifringilla
Binomial name
Fringilla montifringilla
Range of F. montifringilla
  Vagrant (seasonality uncertain)
Brambling's song

The brambling (Fringilla montifringilla) is a small passerine bird in the finch family Fringillidae. It has also been called the cock o' the north and the mountain finch. It is widespread and migratory, often seen in very large flocks.


In 1758 Linnaeus included the species in the 10th edition of his Systema Naturae under its current binomial name, Fringilla montifringilla.[2][3] Montifringilla is from Latin mons, montis mountain and fringilla finch.[4] The English name is probably derived from Common West Germanic *brâma, meaning bramble or a thorny bush (compare Standard German Brämling with the same meaning).[citation needed]


The brambling is similar in size and shape to a common chaffinch. Breeding-plumaged male bramblings are very distinctive, with a black head, dark upperparts, orange breast and white belly. Females and younger birds are less distinct, and more similar in appearance to some chaffinches. In all plumages, however, bramblings differs from chaffinches in a number of features:

  • the brambling has a white rump, whereas that of the common chaffinch is grey-green;
  • the breast is orange, contrasting with a white belly, on the brambling, whereas on the common chaffinch, the underparts are more uniformly coloured (pink or buff);
  • the brambling's scapular feathers are orange, whereas the common chaffinch's are grey or grey-brown;
  • the flanks are dark-spotted on the brambling, plain on the common chaffinch;
  • bramblings lack the white outer tail feathers of common chaffinches.

An additional difference for all plumages except breeding-plumaged males is the bill colour - yellow in the brambling, dull pinkish in the common chaffinch (breeding-plumaged male bramblings have black bills, common chaffinches in the corresponding plumage have grey bills).[5]


  • Length: 16 cm[6]
  • Weight: 23-29 g[6]
  • Wingspan: 25–26 cm[7]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

Male and female in Poland

This bird is widespread, in the breeding season, throughout the forests of northern Europe and east across the Palearctic. It is migratory, wintering in southern Europe, North Africa, northern India, northern Pakistan, China, and Japan.[1] It frequently strays into Alaska during migration and there are scattered records across the northern United States and southern Canada.[8] The global population of bramblings is about 100 to 200 million, with a decreasing trend.[1]

Open coniferous or birch woodland is favoured for breeding.[5]

Behaviour and ecology[edit]

Eggs of Fringilla montifringilla MHNT
A flock of bramblings migrating

This species is almost entirely migratory. In Europe, it forms large flocks in the winter, sometimes with thousands or even millions of birds in a single flock.[9][10] Such large gatherings occur especially if beech mast is abundant. Bramblings do not require beech mast in the winter, but winter flocks of bramblings will move until they find it. This may be an adaptation to avoid competition with the common chaffinch.[11] Bramblings mostly eat seeds[5] in winter, but insects in summer.[12] It builds its nest in a tree fork,[5] and decorates the exterior with moss or lichen to make it less conspicuous. It lays 4–9 eggs.[citation needed]


  1. ^ a b c BirdLife International (2016). "Fringilla montifringilla". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2016: e.T22720041A88203665. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T22720041A88203665.en. Retrieved 12 November 2021.
  2. ^ Paynter, Raymond A. Jnr., ed. (1968). Check-list of birds of the world, Volume 14. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Museum of Comparative Zoology. p. 206.
  3. ^ Linnaeus, C. (1766). Systema Naturæ per regna tria naturae, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis, Volume 1 (in Latin) (10th ed.). Holmiae:Laurentii Salvii. p. 179.
  4. ^ Jobling, James A (2010). The Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. London: Christopher Helm. p. 260. ISBN 978-1-4081-2501-4.
  5. ^ a b c d Mullarney, Killian; Svensson, Lars; Zetterstrom, Dan; Grant, Peter (1999). Collins Bird Guide. London: HarperCollins. ISBN 0-00-219728-6.
  6. ^ a b "Pinson du Nord - Fringilla montifringilla - Brambling". Retrieved 2020-09-29.
  7. ^ "Brambling Bird Facts | Fringilla Montifringilla". The RSPB. Retrieved 2020-09-29.
  8. ^ "eBird Brambling Species Map". Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Retrieved December 20, 2020.
  9. ^ Jenni, L. (1987). "Mass concentrations of Bramblings Fringilla montifringilla in Europe 1900–1983: their dependence upon beech mast and the effect of snow-cover". Ornis Scandinavica. 18 (2): 84–94. doi:10.2307/3676843. JSTOR 3676843.
  10. ^ Svensson, T. (2021). "A review of mass concentrations of Bramblings Fringilla montifringilla: implications for assessment of large numbers of birds". Ornis Svecica. 31: 44–67. arXiv:2010.08465. doi:10.34080/os.v31.22031.
  11. ^ Newton, Ian (1973). Finches. The New Naturalist Library 55. New York: Taplinger. pp. 26–30. ISBN 0-8008-2720-1.
  12. ^ "RSPB: Brambling". Retrieved 7 January 2019.

External links[edit]